Eleven is pleased to present Jennie Ottinger’s first UK exhibition in Chances, Choices, Chases where she has created paintings and abridged novels from classic literature. Despite the fast pace of life, there remains an impulse to read classic books. With numerous forms of media constantly competing for our attention, it is an overwhelming task to try to keep up with all the books, music, and movies that interest us. We are reminded of our own mortality as there is a finite amount of time in which to engage our desired experiences.
Ottinger creates a quick solution to digesting well known novels. Using the casual vernacular of our modern time, she summarises synopses of classic tales. Creating an even more succinct summary, the plot and character descriptions are stripped down to their bare essentials. Ottinger glues together the pages of hard cover classic novels, cuts out the center of the blocks of pages and places her hand written synopses in the empty space. Reinterpreting the book covers but drawn in verisimilitude, the books can be used for fooling those around you into believing you are engrossed by the novel in its entirety. Her adaptations of the stories allow the reader the pleasure of absorbing the main points of the novel in a mere few minutes. The title of the exhibition Chances, Choices, Chases serve as categories to further reduce literary masterpieces to single words.
Presenting paintings of scenes from the classic tales she gives viewers a snap shot of the book’s contents where a few words and images suggest the infamous story lines. Like Grant Wood, she presents the characters more as archetypes than individuals, relying on costume, prop and setting cues for their identity. Similar to the loose unfinished qualities of Marlene Dumas’s paintings, Ottinger leaves much to the viewer's own ability to fill in the blanks. This newest body of work sees her characters animated and expressive, visually bringing to life stirring plot points from the novels along with the more subtle narrative defining scenarios. We rely on her own dedication to reading the classics as she selects scenes for her paintings which relate to significant moments in each story.
The tales she depicts are part of a collective cultural consciousness and have been adapted into movies, plays, and other forms of media. The viewer is drawn to the familiarity of characters, identifying with their personas and plight. Exploring the themes of chases, choices, and chances in the characters lives, Ottinger draws parallels to the critical crossroads in our own lives where we are forced to make decisions and thereby live with the outcomes.
Jennie Ottinger was born in 1971 and lives and works in San Francisco. Her recent solo exhibitions include Due By (2010), Johansson Projects, Oakland, USA and Due Process (2010), Kantor Gallery, Los Angeles, USA.